Keir Starmer slams ‘woeful’ school meal parcels and asks ‘where is the money going?’

Keir Starmer hit out at the ‘woeful’ packages (Image: FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

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Labour has slammed the government after shameful pictures emerged of meagre food parcels sent to families.

Ministers have been plunged into yet another row over free school meals after the shocking images were shared on Twitter.

One mother shared an image of a £30 parcel meant to last for 10 days, which she said contained just over £5 worth of food.

Footballer Marcus Rashford, who has repeatedly shamed Tory ministers over free school meals, said parcels were "just not good enough".

Labour leader Keir Starmer said: "The images appearing online of woefully inadequate free school meal parcels are a disgrace.

This package was shared by the Twitter user @Roadsidemum
(Image: @RoadsideMum/Twitter)

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"Where is the money going? This needs sorting immediately so families don’t go hungry through lockdown."

It is thought private firm Chartwells provided a package highlighted by Twitter user @Roadsidemum.

The firm, part of the food service giant Compass Group, said it would "investigate immediately". The firm added: "This does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers."

Chartwells supplies food to more than 3,000 "educational establishments" and joined Rashford's Child Food Poverty taskforce last year.

Children's Minister Vicky Ford tweeted: "I will be looking into this urgently – food parcels should cover all lunchtime meals & be nutritious.

Boris Johnson's ministers have launched an investigation into what happened
(Image: PA)

"We’ve increased funding for parcels & will support local vouchers – national voucher also rolling out ASAP, working night & day on this. Hope your kids are ok."

But Tory Housing Minister Simon Clarke accused people of "seeking to whip up a storm on Twitter".

He added: "Too much to hope in age of instant outrage to wait for the facts before jumping in."

The food parcels were distributed because the government didn't have time to set up a new voucher scheme before the lockdown.

Education officials only had a few hours' notice before some schools shut in England's lockdown next week.

Eligible parents will be able to get £15-a-week supermarket vouchers for their children's food "shortly" but the government hasn't said when.

In the meantime, schools are expected to distribute food parcels to parents of children who are eligible for free school meals.

It was not immediately clear how many meals Chartwells distributed. The government said contracts were with individual schools.

It was also unclear how much public money had been spent on the parcels.

Schools can claim to be reimbursed "up to" £15 per eligible pupil per week, but exact figures have not been published.

The Department for Education said: "We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed.

"Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food."

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